Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy Anniversary of Hope

    Happy Anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement: April 10-11, 1998!
I was an intern in Conflict Analysis at The Centre for the Study of Conflict in Coleraine, Northern Ireland in the Fall of 1992, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica in 1998 when the Agreement was reached.
   To commemorate the event, I began to send anniversary cards in 2001. I decided to send the cards every year as a message of encouragement, regardless of the status of the peace process. At first I sent a handful to friends and family, then began to extend the message to anyone who might have had any interest -- including the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Ireland, the Pope of Rome, former President Clinton, The Sinn Fein party, Gerry Adams, and (almost) Ian Paisley. The responses through the years have been heartwarming: mostly sincere and friendly, especially from Mr. Adam's office.
   I have usually included several members of the clergy. When in Cardiff I was asked by one priest to provide a background history to the Agreement along with the cards, since many students who comprised his parish were not old enough to remember the day. An interim Associate Minister of my own church asked for a presentation on a particular Good Friday which happened to fall on April 10.
  The then-Secretaries of State of Wales and Northern Ireland in 2003 expressed interest in my cards.
  Overall, people's responses have been gratifying, as has the cards' increasing popularity.

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